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Lucy Meadows case coroner given ‘informal advice’ after inquest attack on journalists

By Gabriel Samuels

The coroner who presided over the Lucy Meadows suicide inquest was spoken to by the highest-ranking UK coroner following an outspoken attack on journalists.

The Judicial Office confirmed that the Chief Coroner, Judge Peter Thornton QC, gave "informal advice" to Michael Singleton after he made the comments.

Transgender teacher Meadows committed suicide in March, four months after reports of her sex-change had appeared in the press.

Evidence heard at the inquest pointed to issues other than media coverage as being motives in Meadows’ decision to take her own life. A suicide note, read aloud at the hearing, made no mention of the press.

At the inquest in May, Singleton said he was “appalled” at the media coverage of Meadows' sex-change, condemning “sensational and salacious” press reports.

He then adressed the journalists covering the hearing on the press benches, saying to them: “And to you the Press, I say shame. Shame on all of you”.

The coroner singled out a Daily Mail column by Richard Littlejohn published in December, branding it a “character assassination”.

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The Office for Judicial Complaints said a formal complaint against Singleton had been dismissed because the Chief Coroner "had already dealt with the matter". 

Singleton also said that he had carried out his own private research into the case.

In May, Singleton wrote a Section 43 letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller citing “ill-informed bigotry” in the press and suggesting changes to press regulation.

According to the Daily Mail, the "informal advice" covered the letter and Singleton's private research.

Singleton’s comments led to angry calls for Richard Littlejohn to be sacked in May. Press Gazette later revealed how Meadows sought advice from Trans Media Watch about how to deal with the press intrusion following Littlejohn's article, before taking her own life.

Freelance journalist Gavin Drake, who wrote an open letter to the Lord Chancellor demanding that Singleton be rebuked, said “the coroner’s behaviour was appalling” before criticising him for “resorting to sensationalism” with his comments.

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